Top 5 Most Underrated Linebackers 2.0
Linebackers who see the field in subpackage formations have increased fantasy value because of their higher number of opportunities to make plays. These every-down linebackers are some of the most valuable fantasy assets each season. As NFL rosters and starting lineups start to take shape around the league, IDP owners need to take stock of the linebackers who are projected to be every-down players.
Based on Jeff Ratcliffe’s and my rankings, here is version two of our top five most underrated every-down linebackers as of August 22nd.
Wesley Woodyard – Denver Broncos
Previous Rankings: Ross’s Rank – LB No. 17, Jeff’s Rank – LB No. 14
Current Rankings: Ross’s Rank – LB No. 15, Jeff’s Rank – LB No. 15
Last season’s suspension to DJ Williams gave Woodyard a free run at the weakside linebacker role, where he seemed to thrive in during the early part of the year. Through the first nine weeks he racked up five double-digit tackle games (including a four-game streak), as well as three sacks, a forced fumble and two interceptions. That fantasy production made him an LB1 during that period.
An ankle injury in Week 13 slowed Woodyard’s season, as he missed the following game and could not return to his previous levels of fantasy production. Woodyard ended the year having scored as a high-end LB2 and enters 2013 with little competition for his spot in nickel and dime formations from Nate Irving, the current projected starting middle linebacker. Having played all defensive snaps in ten games last season Woodyard is likely to exceed 1,000 snaps this season and could be a dark horse for LB1 honors.
The six-game suspension for Von Miller means that there will be a change to the expected make-up of the Broncos linebacking corps, and Shaun Phillips is the ready-made replacement. However, I don’t feel that Phillips offers the same level of play against the run that Von Miller would have so it is a slight boost to Woodyard’s value with him out of the line-up.
Ross Miles is a Lead Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy. Follow him on Twitter – @PFF_RossMiles
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